Glossary of Cat Terms

  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U W


AACE (American Association of Cat Enthusiasts) : Founded in 1993, the American Association of Cat Enthusiasts is the second newest cat association. Its main office is in Pine Brook, New Jersey, and holds most of its shows on the East Coast. AACE? main goals are to make sure its cat shows are rewarding and fun, that exhibitors receive fair appraisals of their cats, and that judges are treated fairly and are not under political pressure from any groups. AACE has both specialty and allbreed judges who are licensed and well trained; trainees must complete rigorous requirements and testing to be licensed to judge. Since 1993 AACE has registered over 20,000 cats, 1,500 catteries, and has 50 member clubs. Their cat show year is from November 1st to October 31st. Each cat show year, member clubs hold between 10 and 12 AACE-sanctioned cat shows.

ACA (American Cat Association) : The American Cat Association is the oldest cat registry in North America. It was founded in 1896 in Illinois and incorporated in 1904, and is now located in Southern California. Although ACA no longer holds shows, it still maintains a registry.

ACFA (American Cat Fanciers?Association) :The American Cat Fanciers?Association was formed in 1955 by a group of fanciers who wanted to have more input into their association? functions. Each ACFA member has a direct vote in electing officers and directors and on any changes to the bylaws, show rules and registration rules, rather than relying on clubs, committees or other groups to set policy. Its motto is "the friendly association," and is the third largest in North America. The main office is in Nixa, Missouri. Its goal is to promote the welfare, education, knowledge and interest in all domesticated cats, pedigreed and random bred, to breeders, owners, exhibitors and the general public. ACFA was the first association to accept altered cats for show competition and the first to require judges to pass written exams before becoming licensed. Applicants must meet specific requirements and attend an ACFA judging school or an approved breeders?seminar before applying.

Advanced New Breed (ANB) Class : In The International Cat Association (TICA), this non-championship class is for breeds recognized by TICA and approved by the board of directors to have qualified to move from the non-championship preliminary new breed (PNB) class to the ANB class. Whole cats, kittens, and alters who are registered with TICA and belong to a qualifying ANB breed qualify for this class. The Peterbald is an example of a breed that progressed to the ANB class. ANB breeds may be advanced to championship by the TICA board of directors if the requirements are met. This TICA class used to be part of their now inactive new breed and color (NBC) class.

Agouti : A coat pattern in which each individual hair has light-colored bands contrasted with darker-colored bands. The lighter color lies closest to the skin and the hair ends with a dark tip. Also called ticked. See an example of an agouti coat.

Ailurophile : Someone who loves cats.

Ailurophobe : Someone who hates or fears cats.

Allbreed : A judge who is licensed to judge all breeds of cats.

Allele : One of a pair or series of genes that occupy a specific position on a specific chromosome and that control the same characteristic.

All-weather : A coat type in which the protective guard hairs are numerous and long and the undercoat is thick and warm, enabling the cat to stay relatively dry and comfortable in cold, snowy or wet weather. An all-weather coat is long but not long enough to be a hazard by catching on briers or branches. In the summer, the coat sheds so the hot weather doesn? cause the cat to overheat.

Alter, altered : A cat who has been spayed or neutered. Also means to perform spaying or neutering.

Amyloidosis : A disease that occurs when an insoluble protein called amyloid is deposited in certain organs such as the kidneys or liver, causing lesions, dysfunction, and eventual organ failure. The disease is thought to be hereditary.

Angora : The Turkish Angora breed; see the profile. The word is also used by the general public to mean any white cat with long fine hair.

AOC : Any other color; a cat show term used to designate color classes.

AOV : Any other variety; a show term that applies to pedigreed cats and kittens who do not conform to the show standard in some way and therefore cannot be shown for championship.

Autosomal dominant gene : A dominant gene that is not located on a sex chromosome (X or Y). See dominant.

Awn : A secondary hair type that is coarser than down hairs; these hairs form an insulating layer.


Balance : Refers to the body? conformation. Balance means the cat? characteristics fit together so all features are harmonious. Balance and proportion are often of greater importance than any single characteristic.

B.C.E. : Before the Common Era. Many writers, particularly in the scientific community, have adopted the notations B.C.E. (Before Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era) as substitutes for B.C. and A.D.

Benching : The area of the show hall where exhibitors display their cats when they are not being judged.

Best in Show : An award given to the cat judged to be the finest cat shown in the entire cat show.

Best of Breed : An award given to the cat judged to be the finest example of the breed in that show ring. A Best of Breed is chosen for each ring.

Bicolor (also bi-color) : A cat who is white and one other color. Many associations have rules about the amount of white necessary for a cat to be deemed bicolor. See an example of a bicolor cat.

Blaze : A marking on the center of the forehead between the eyes; it often runs down the nose as well.

Bloodline : A group of cats related by ancestry or pedigree.

Blue : A soft medium gray coat color. See an example of blue coat.

Blue point : A cat whose blue coat color is confined to the points: the feet, ears, tail, and face mask. See an example of a blue point cat.

Bobcat : A North American wild cat ( Lynx rufus) with spotted reddish-brown fur, tufted ears and a short tail.

Break : An indentation of the nose at about eye level or between the eyes.

Breeches (also called britches) : Longer hair on the back of the upper hind legs. See an example of breeches.

Breed standard : The standard of perfection that outlines the ideal conformation for each breed. See conformation.

Breed true, bred true : Consistently producing offspring that physically resemble the parent cats.

Breeder : Someone who breeds cats according to a planned breeding program.

Brindle, brindled : A random scattering of different colored hairs rather than patches of same colored hairs. Tortoiseshell cats are sometimes brindled rather than patched.

Britches (also called breeches) : Longer hair on the back of the upper hind legs. See an example of britches.

Brush : Tail hair that plumes out like a bottle brush

Buttons : Spots on the underside of the body that look like vest buttons. Buttons are usually dark against a pale ground color. See vest buttons.


Calico : A cat, almost always female, with patches of black, red and white. See an example of a calico cat.

California Spangled Cat : An extremely rare domestic breed developed in the 1970s with the goal of creating a domestic cat who resembled the great spotted wildcats such as the leopard. The breed is recognized by TICA.

Calling : The noise a female cat makes when in heat.

Cameo : A cat who has a red coat with white roots. Also called shaded or smoke. See an example of a cameo coat.

Cardiomyopathy : A disease of the heart muscle, usually inherited. It affects pedigreed breeds as well as the domestic cat population in general. Some breeds tend to be more prone to the disease than others. Several types of cardiomyopathy exist, including dilated, hypertropic and restrictive.

Cat fancy : The group of people, associations, registries and clubs involved in showing and breeding cats.

Cat show : An event in which cats are shown and judged.

Cattery : A building, room or area where cats are housed and bred. Often, catteries are maintained in breeders?homes. Cattery names, if registered with one or more of the cat associations, become prefixes of the names of cats bred by those catteries.

CCA (The Canadian Cat Association) : Founded in 1961 and based in Brampton, Ontario, the CCA is the only Canadian pedigreed cat registry. Before the association was founded, all cat registrations had to be filed with associations in the United States or Europe and all Canadian cat shows had to follow the rules of U.S. associations. The CCA provides the Canadian cat fancy with an organization governed by its members and dedicated to the promotion and welfare of cats in Canada. Cat fanciers are members of the association rather than members of associated clubs. The association promotes the welfare of all the cats in Canada, furthers the improvement of all cat breeds recognized in Canada, and maintains a registry. Its affiliated cat clubs hold shows mostly in Ontario and Quebec.

C.E. : Common Era. Many writers, particularly in the scientific community, have adopted the notations B.C.E. (Before Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era) as substitutes for B.C. and A.D

Certified pedigree : A document showing a cat? background for three, four or five generations. A five-generation pedigree shows the cat plus five previous generations, with the names, colors and show titles of each cat.

CFA (Cat Fanciers?Association) : The Cat Fanciers?Association was formed in 1906 and incorporated in 1919. Based in Manasquan, New Jersey, it is the world? largest registry of pedigreed cats. CFA has more than 500 member clubs and sanctions cat shows in most areas of North America and around the world. CFA shows are judged by individuals who meet the strict criteria and have completed a rigorous training program. CFA? objectives are to promote the welfare of all cats, register cat pedigrees, license cat shows, and promote the interests of cat breeders and exhibitors. CFA is affiliated with the Winn Feline Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports research into feline medical problems.

CFA Breed Registration Totals : Each year, CFA totals the number of cats and kittens registered and publishes a list ranking the breeds in order of popularity based on these registration totals. This list, called "Breeds In Order By Popularity," is often used as an overall popularity gauge. In the past, the actual numbers of each breed were listed as well, but in 2005 CFA opted to list only the breeds?ranking.

CFF (Cat Fanciers?Federation) : The Cat Fanciers?Federation incorporated in 1919. Its main office is in Gratis, Ohio; however, its affiliated clubs are generally in the northeastern United States. Members may join as individuals or through the CFF affiliated clubs. Member clubs put on the shows, which are held every month except July and August in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The shows raise money to fund programs that educate people about cat health and cat care, and the benefits of owning cats. Judges are well trained and must demonstrate their ability to accurately gauge the best examples of each breed for which they?e approved. CFF? objectives are to register pedigreed cats and household pets, license and hold CFF cat shows, accept and update breed standards, maintain show rules and the constitution and by laws that govern CFF, and promote the health and welfare of all cats.

Champagne : A warm honey beige shading to pale gold tan on the underside. This color is found in the Burmese and Tonkinese breeds.

Champion : An unaltered, registered pedigreed cat who has attained the title of champion by earning wins in the championship class. See championship.

Championship : A class in which registered pedigreed cats are shown. The class is open to unaltered adult pedigreed cats who meet the breed standard. (Altered cats compete in the premiership or alter classes and earn comparable titles.) In most associations, cats must not be declawed.

Chinchilla : A coat pattern where the white hairs are barely tipped with black, red, or blue, depending on the breed standard. See an example of a chinchilla coat.

Chocolate: A rich medium brown coat color. See an example of chocolate color.

Chocolate point : Chocolate color on the points (face mask, ears, tail, and legs), as opposed to the darker seal brown. See chocolate and points. See an example of a chocolate point cat.

Cinnamon : A reddish brown coat color. See an example of a cinnamon cat.

Closing date : The date the entry clerk for a cat show must receive the entry for a cat to be eligible to compete in the show.

Clowder of cats : A group of cats. Also called a clutter of cats, a glaring of cats (when fighting), a pounce of cats (when playing), a dout of cats (when outdoors) and a nuisance of cats (when mischievious).

Coarseness : Lacking refinement; usually refers to body type.

Cobby : A broad, round body type with a broad head and shorter legs. The Persian and Exotic Shorthair are examples of this body type.. See an example of a cobby body type.

Colorpoint : A coat pattern where the darkest color is restricted to the extremities of the body?the face mask, ears, tail and feet?nd shading to a much lighter color on the body. The colorpoint pattern is technically the same as the Siamese pattern (also called the Himalayan pattern), but the term is often used to identify pointed colors and patterns that result from crossing Siamese with other breeds. Examples include red, tortie and lynx points. See an example of a colorpoint cat.

Conformation : The physical type of the cat, which includes body and head type, bone structure, facial type, coat length and type, colors and patterns, and many other physical features.

Contemporary Burmese : The most common type of Burmese found in cat shows. The Contemporary Burmese is medium in size, powerful, and compact with surprising weight for its size. The head is pleasingly rounded, the face is full and blends gently into a broad, short, well-developed muzzle. See the description section of the Burmese profile. See an example of a Contemporary Burmese.

Cream : A soft pastel buff, beige, shell or sand color, depending upon the breed, genetic makeup and coat pattern. Cream is a dilute color of red (red is also called orange). For example, a tortoiseshell cat has patches of red and black, and a dilute tortoiseshell has patches of blue and cream.

Crossbreed, crossbreeding, crossbred : Mating cats of two different breeds or varieties, random-bred cats and pedigreed breeds, or domestic cats and wildcats. The offspring of such pairings are called hybrids. See hybrid.

Cryptorchid : A male cat whose testicles have not descended. Such cats are usually not qualified to compete in the championship classes.

Cull, culling : To selectively remove cats from a breeding program who don't meet the breed standard or are not suitable in other ways. Such cats are usually altered and sold as pets.

Cupped : Sometimes called deep ear, this term refers to the ear conformation. The base of the ear is curved in a cup-like shape. The Abyssinian and the Somali are examples of breeds with cupped ears.


Dam : Mother of a litter. Also called a queen.

Declawed : A cat who has had his claws surgically removed. Some associations don? allow declawed cats to be shown, particularly in the championship classes.

Dilute : A soft, pale, recessive version of a dominant color. For example, blue is a dilute of black and cream is a dilute of red.

Dilute calico : A cat with patches of blue, cream and white. See an example of dilute calico cat.

Disqualification : Elimination from cat show competition because of a serious conformation fault or behavior problem.

Docking : The practice of cutting off most of the tail when a cat is very young, often two to seven days of age. This is done only on breeds where short tails are the norm but not all kittens are born with short tails. Examples include the Manx, Cymric and Pixiebob.

Dome : Rounded forehead of a cat.

Domestic :A cat without a pedigree. See random-bred. Can also mean any member of the species Felis silvestris catus, the domestic cat.

Domestic mediumhair (DMH) : A cat with medium-length hair who is of unknown or mixed parentage.

Domestic shorthair (DSH) : A shorthaired cat of unknown or mixed parentage.

Domestic longhair (DLH) : A longhair cat of unknown or mixed parentage.

Dominant : A genetic trait that always expresses itself in the physical appearance of the cat. It masks the effects of corresponding recessive genes for the same trait. See recessive.

Don Sphynx : A Russian breed of hairless cat. The first Don Sphynx, a female named Varvara, was found in 1987 by cat lover Helen Kovaleva in the city of Rostov na Donu, located on the Don River. The breed was named for the location in which it was found and because of its resemblance to the Sphynx breed in North America. The breed was developed by outcrosses with European and domestic shorthairs. While the breed is still largely known as the Don Sphynx in Russia, it? called the Don Hairless in North America. Since it? not related to the well known Sphynx, the Russian name was thought to be too confusing.

Double coat : A coat with a thick layer of awn and down hairs underneath the top guard hairs. See an example of a double coat.

Down : A secondary hair type that is very soft, slightly wavy ,and is usually much shorter and mats much more easily than the top guard hairs.


Ear furnishings : The hair inside the ears. See an example of a cat with ear furnishings.

Ear tufts : Longer hair on the very tips of the ears that give a lynx-like look to a cat. Also called lynx tipping. See an example of ear tufts.

Earmuffs : Longer hair that grows on the lower back side of the ears.

Entire : A cat who has not been spayed or neutered; also called whole.

European Shorthair : This breed is recognized in Continental Europe and Scandinavia. The European Shorthair was developed from European random bred domestic cats in the same way the American Shorthair was developed from random bred North American domestic cats, and the way the British Shorthair was developed from random-bred British cats. The ideal European Shorthair is a robust shorthaired cat with a rounded face.

Exhibitor : A fancier who has entered a cat into competition at a cat show.

Extreme Siamese : An extremely svelte form of Siamese, the type usually seen in cat shows. The body is very long, graceful, and tubular, and the head is a long tapering wedge. See the description section of the Siamese profile. See an example of an Extreme Siamese.


Fault : A flaw in the color, coat or conformation of a cat, causing a loss of points when the cat is judged at a cat show.

Fawn : A warm pink or buff color. See an example of a fawn cat.

Feathered, feathering : Longer hair that looks feathery. Feathering usually occurs on the legs and tail.

Felid : A feline. All cats, wild or domestic, are members of the family Felidae. See Felidae.

Felidae : The cat family. All cats are members of the family Felidae. The scientific classification of the cat family is as follows: Kingdom: Animalia; Phylum: Chordata; Class: Mammalia; Order: Carnivora; Family: Felidae.

Felis : A genus of the family Felidae. See genus.

Felis silvestris catus : The scientific name of the domestic cat.

Feral : A domestic animal who was born in the wild or who reverted to a wild state. The word can also be used to describe a wild appearance in a domestic cat.

FIFe : The F?ration International F?ne, a cat registry founded in France that now has members across Europe, South America and Asia. The organization's headquarters is in Luxembourg.

Final : The event when rosettes (awards) are awarded to the top cats in each category at a cat show.

Flared : Spread open or out. This term usually refers to the ears. Flared ears are often cupped or rounded at the base.

Foreign : A cat with an elegant, long body with legs in proportion to the body length, slim, fine boned, long, tapering tail, and a modified wedge or wedge shaped head. Also sometimes called Oriental. See an example of a foreign body type.

Forehead kisses, forehead presses : Sometimes called head butts or head bonks, this is a form of physical affection in which a cat presses or rubs his forehead against yours.

Foreshortened : Shorter than normal; this usually refers to the muzzle in breeds such as the Persian and Exotic, but can also refer to the spine in breeds such as the Manx and Cymric, and to the tail in breeds such as the American Bobtail and the Japanese Bobtail. See an example of a foreshortened muzzle.

Foundation cat(s) : The cat or cats from which a breed originated. Sometimes the foundation cat is not known. In breeds for which hybridization is necessary, "foundation" can apply to the first generation or generations of hybrids.

Foundation stock : Cats, usually obtained from other countries, areas or breeders, for the purpose of building up a breed. See foundation cats.

Foxiness : A rather pointy muzzle (not broad or square), giving a fox-like look to the head.

Furnishings : Longer hair on certain parts of the cat? body; for example the longer hair that grows between the toes of a Maine Coon or the longer hair inside the ear. See an example of a cat with ear furnishings.


Gangliosidosis : A progressive fatal brain disease affecting the cell compartment that recycles body chemicals, including gangliosides, which are vital for brain cell function. Two separate but similar autosomal recessive mutations have been identified, GM1 and GM2; both have been found in the Korat breed. GM2 has an earlier onset than GM1, and progresses more rapidly. Symptoms include tremors, impaired coordination, seizures, and eventual death. There is no cure.

Genes : Units of inheritance; genes are sequences of DNA that determine characteristics such as physical features, colors, patterns, and coat lengths. Genes are responsible for characteristics passing from generation to generation. Genes mutate when their DNA sequence changes. See polygenes and mutation.

Genetics : The study of heredity, particularly the way genes are transmitted and the variety of inherited characteristics.

Genotype : The genetic makeup of a cat, whether or not it is expressed in the cat? physical appearance.

Genus : A taxonomic category ranking below family and above species; it generally consists of a group of species exhibiting similar characteristics.

Ghost markings or patterns : Faint tabby markings seen in some solid colored cats, particularly noticeable in kittens and young cats.

GCCF : The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy; the main cat registry in Britain. The GCCF was established in 1910 from the several cat clubs who were registering cats at that time. Today the council has 144 affiliated cat clubs, licenses approximately 135 shows a year, and registers an average of 30,000 pedigreed cats.

Grand Champion (GRC) : A cat who has qualified for this status within a particular association by winning a certain number of awards at cat shows.

GRC : Grand Champion.

Ground color : The lighter base color between the darker areas in tabby patterns. Also, the area of color on the lower part of the hair shaft.See an example of ground color.

Guard hairs : The longest of the three hair types; they form the coat? protective outer layer.


Harlequin : A mostly white cat with several patches of color.

Heat : A queen? estrus period, when she is receptive to the advances of a tom.

Heterozygous : A heterozygous cat has inherited two different forms of a particular gene, one from each parent. How the gene will express itself in the cat? appearance depends upon dominance. For example, a cat possessing both the gene for long hair and the gene for short hair will have short hair, since short hair is governed by a dominant gene, and long hair is governed by a recessive gene. The dominant gene masks the effect of the recessive gene for the same trait. See dominant, and recessive.

Himalayan pattern : A pattern where color is concentrated at the body? extremities (face mask, ears, tail and feet). See pointed pattern.See an example of a Himalayan pattern.

Hip dysplasia : a disease most commonly associated with dogs, but that is becoming a problem in some cat breeds. Caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, hip dysplasia can cause crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the hip joints.

Hock : The joint of the cat? hind leg that corresponds to a human's ankle

Homozygous : A homozygous cat has inherited the same form of a particular gene from each parent. The cat will always express the trait associated with that gene in her physical appearance. For example, if a cat is homozygous for long hair (inherits the long hair gene from both parents) she?l have long hair. See genes and heterozygous.

Household pet : A random-bred cat. Also, a pedigreed cat who is not registered or doesn? qualify to compete in the championship classes with others of the same breed. These cats can compete in the non-championship category Household Pet category (HHP). See random-bred.

Hybrid : The offspring of two different breeds or two different species. This is sometimes done to introduce desirable characteristics into breeds, widen gene pools, or create new breeds.


Inbred : Cats who are the product of breeding very close relatives, usually for several generations. Inbreeding can concentrate negative traits and genetic disorders causing ill health. See inbreeding.

Inbreeding : Mating two closely related cats (for example brother to sister or mother to son). This is usually done to concentrate positive genetic traits but often concentrates negative genetic traits as well. Negative genetic traits can be passed on for generations, particularly if the traits are governed by recessive genes.


Jowls : The loose flesh around the neck and throat and prominent, well-developed cheeks seen in unaltered male cats. Breed standards generally allow for jowls in whole males. See an example of a cat with jowls.

Judging schedule : The schedule that sets the order in which each judge will see the cats being shown.

Judging cage : Individual cages in the show ring used to hold the cats who are awaiting judging.


Kink : A bend, curve, or bump in the tail; kinks are grounds for disqualification in many breeds. In other breeds such as the Japanese Bobtail, tail kinks are desirable.

Kitten : For judging purposes in most associations, a cat who is four to eight months old. Outside the cat fancy, cats are considered kittens until they are one year old.


Laces : White fur that extends from the paws up the back of the leg.

Lavender : A pale shade of pinkish gray called lilac in some associations.

Lilac : A pale shade of pinkish gray called lavender in some associations. See an example of a lilac cat.

Lilac point : A cat with pale pinkish gray color on the points. See an example of a lilac point cat.

Line-breeding : Breeding cats who share the same bloodline but who are not as closely related as with inbreeding. Examples include breeding a cat to his or her great-grandparents, great-grandchildren, second or third cousins, or great aunts or uncles. This method is used to concentrate the good genetic qualities of outstanding examples of the breed without as much risk of concentrating negative traits, particularly when the breed? gene pool is large.

Litter : A group of kittens born together to the same queen. Also means the material used in cat litter boxes.

Litter registration : An application submitted by a breeder to her chosen cat registry that records the birth of a litter and usually includes the date of birth, number of kittens, and the sire and dam.

Locket : A solid white spot, often cause for disqualification in the show ring.

Lynx point : A pointed cat with tabby markings on the points. See an example of a lynx point cat.

Lynx tips, lynx tipping : Hair at the tips of the ears resembling the lynx? ear tips. See an example of lynx tipped ears.


Mackerel tabby : A tabby pattern with narrow parallel stripes that run down the cat? sides. This type was named after the mackerel fish. See an example of mackerel tabby.

Marbled : Another name for the classic or blotched tabby. See an example of a marbled coat pattern.

Mascara lines : Dark lines on the face around the eyes and on the cheeks. See an example of mascara lines.

Mask : A darker area on the face, including the nose, whisker pads, chin, and the eye area. See an example of a mask.

Master Clerk : The person at the cat show who compiles the information from the judging rings into one master catalog.

Matting : Clumps of tangled fur that form close to the skin when a cat isn? groomed sufficiently.

Medium hair : Sometimes called semi longhair, a cat with medium hair has a coat that is slightly longer than a shorthair?. While the cat fancy recognizes only two hair lengths?onghair and shorthair?ome breeds fall between the two types. The two hair types can also vary greatly in the length, which can be confusing to a new fancier. A medium length coat can be called long or short, depending upon the breed. For example, the longhaired Persian has fur as much as eight inches long, while the Balinese, another longhaired breed, has medium length fur. Other breeds, while still defined as shorthairs, have fur that? medium in length; the Exotic Shorthair and the American Wirehair are two examples.

Meezer : An affectionate same for the Siamese breed.

Mink : A pointed pattern in which the body color is rich, even and unmarked. The pointed areas (face mask, ears, tail and feet) are distinctly darker than on the body. See an example of a mink coat pattern.

Miscellaneous class : The cat show class for breeds not yet accepted for CFA? provisional status but accepted for registration and showing in the miscellaneous class. Breeds in the miscellaneous class can be exhibited at shows, and judges can examine the cats and discuss their proposed standard. No awards are presented in this class.

Mittens : White areas restricted to the feet. See an example of mittens.

Moderate : A body type that falls between cobby and svelte; this type is also called medium.

Modified wedge : A wedge that is slightly rounded instead of having absolutely straight lines. See an example of a modified wedge head shape.

Mutation : A modification in a gene that results in a change in inherited characteristics between two generations. Sometimes called a spontaneous mutation.

Mutton chops: Hair below the ears and on the cheek areas that grows downward, giving the impression of mutton chop whiskers on a man.

Muzzle : The nose and jaw.


National Cat Fanciers Association (NCFA) : The NCFA was started in 1954 when a small group of fanciers broke away from CFA because they were so unhappy about Himalayans becoming a color division of the Persian. In 1961 the NCFA registered as a nonprofit corporation. In 1990 the association dissolved but in 1991 it reformed and is continuing its objective of enhancing the natural beauty of pedigreed breeds while retaining their lovable personalities. It is based in Flushing, Michigan. A family oriented association, it encourages young people to be active participants in the shows. Shows are often held at fairs.

Necklace : Darker markings encircling the neck. See an example of a necklace.

Neuter : An altered cat. Although generally taken to mean an altered male, a neuter can be either male or female. See alter.

New Breed and Color, New Breed :A breed that is in the process of being developed and has not achieved championship status and therefore cannot compete for championship titles. Status can vary by association. CFA calls this class provisional and TICA has divided NBC into three classes. See provisional, preliminary new breed, advanced new breed, and new traits.

New Traits (NT) Class : In The International Cat Association (TICA), this new non-championship class has been created for breeds recognized by TICA for championship but that are trying to gain acceptance for a new trait or traits, such as a new color or coat length. Whole cats, kittens, and alters qualify for this class if they are registered with TICA, belong to an accepted championship breed, and exhibit a new trait or traits. New traits may be approved for championship by the TICA board of directors if the required conditions are met. For example, the Turkish Van is seeking acceptance for solid white coloring in the NT class. This TICA class used to be part of their now inactive new breed and color (NBC) class.

Nose leather : An area of colored, hairless skin on the nose. See an example of pink nose leather.


Odd eyes or odd-eyed : A cat whose eyes are of two different colors; for example, one blue eye and one copper eye. See an example of an odd-eyed cat.

Oriental : A cat with an elegant, long body with legs in proportion to the body length, slim, fine boned, long, tapering tail, and a modified wedge or wedge shaped head. Also sometimes called foreign. See an example of the Oriental body type.

Outcrossing : The opposite of inbreeding?ats who are bred together are not, or at least only very distantly, related. It can also refer to breeding one breed to another, resulting in a hybrid. Acceptable outcrosses are the breeds permitted to be bred into the lines of a registered breed and/or allowed in the background of a registered breed. See hybrid.


Pantaloons : Longer hair on the back of the upper hind legs. Also called britches or breeches.See an example of pantaloons.

Papers : Usually refers to a cat? pedigree or registration certificate.

Particolor : Having either two or more colors (depending upon the association), or having any color or pattern with white.

Particolor point : A pointed pattern cat (also called colorpoint) in which the pointed areas?ace mask, ears, feet and tail?re particolor. A variety of color combinations are possible, such as seal-tortie, in which the pointed areas are decorated with randomly mottled areas of seal, red and/or cream.

Pattern : The color distribution on a cat? coat that forms a particular pattern, such as the striped tabby pattern.

Paw pads : The furless padded areas on the bottom of the feet. Cats sweat through their paw pads, although they also pant when they?e very hot.

Pedigree : The official record of a cat? ancestry.

Pedigreed cat : Generally, a cat whose heritage is known, registered and documented for at least three generations.

Pet quality : A pedigreed cat who doesn? meet the breed standard closely enough to be shown in the championship classes. These cats are almost always sold with a spay/neuter agreement to prevent breeding.

Petted out : Pedigreed cats sold as pets, usually with spay/neuter agreements.

Phenotype : The observable physical appearance of a cat. A cat? phenotype may or may not express his genetic makeup. See genotype.

Piebald, piebald pattern : A common mutation that produces cats with patches of white?lthough the varieties of piebald possibilities are numerous. The pattern is governed by the white spotting factor, a dominant gene. The white spotting factor can produce small white patches, such as white toes or feet, a completely white coat, and a remarkable variety of patterns and combinations in between.

PK deficiency : Erythrocyte pyruvate kinase (PK) deficiency, a hereditary disease caused by a recessive gene; the cat must have two copies of the gene to be symptomatic. The deficiency of pyruvate kinase, a key regulatory enzyme in the metabolism of sugar, will typically result in intermittent anemia. PK deficiency can be detected with a simple blood test. A currently experimental splenectomy surgery may cure the disease.

Plane : A flat surface.

Platinum : A pale, silvery gray with pale fawn undertones, shading to a slightly lighter hue on the underparts.

Point restricted : A pattern with darker color at the extremities of the body-the face, ears, tail and feet. See pointed pattern. See an example of one type of point restricted color pattern.

Point score : The points designated for each part of the cat? body for the purpose of show judging.

Pointed : A pattern with darker color at the extremities of the body?he face, ears, tail and feet. See pointed pattern. See an example of one type of pointed pattern.

Pointed pattern : A coat pattern where the darkest color is restricted to the extremities of the body?he face mask, ears, tail and feet-shading to a much lighter color on the body. Siamese cats are known for this pattern, but it is also common in breeds who have Siamese ancestors or were created by crossing Siamese cats with other breeds. Random-bred cats can also have the pointed pattern. This pattern is also sometimes called the colorpoint pattern or the Himalayan pattern.

Points : The extremities of a cat? body: face mask, ears, tail and feet. Also, this can mean the points awarded to a winning cat at a show. See pointed pattern.

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) : A hereditary disease that causes both kidneys to develop multiple cysts, causing renal failure later in life, usually after breeding age. The disease is known to exist in random-bred cats as well as a number of breeds, particularly Persians where the disease is estimated to affect over 37 percent of the population. However, catteries have been able to reduce the frequency by screening and culling any cats carrying the gene. There is no cure.

Polydactyl : Having more than the usual number of toes. Considered a show fault for most breeds and in most associations.

Polygenes : A group of genes, each having a small effect individually, that together produce greater changes or variation.

Prefix : The cattery name that appears at the beginning of the name of any cat bred at that cattery. See suffix.

Preliminary New Breed (PNB) Class : In The International Cat Association (TICA), this non-championship class is for breeds recognized by TICA and approved by the board of directors to qualify to move from registration or exhibition status to the non-championship PNB class. Whole cats, kittens, and alters who are registered with TICA and belong to a qualifying PNB breed qualify for this class. For example, the Serengeti, a breed created by crossing Bengals and Oriental Shorthairs, has been accepted as a preliminary new breed. PNB breeds may be promoted to the advanced new breed (ANB) class by the TICA board of directors if the required conditions are met. This TICA class used to be part of their now inactive new breed and color (NBC) class.

Premier or alter : An altered, registered pedigreed cat. Can be shown in the premiership or alter class, depending upon the association. Premiers or alters are judged by the same standards as cats in the championship classes.

Premiership or alter class : A competitive class for altered pedigreed cats of either sex, comparable to the championship class. Altered cats can achieve the title of grand premier or grand champion alter, comparable to grand champion for unaltered cats.

Pricked : Ears that are held erect.

Provisional Class : The competition class for breeds who have not yet qualified for CFA championship status. This class is the next-to-last step before a breed is accepted for championship competition; certain additional requirements must be met first. In CFA, cats in this class compete as far as the awarding of Best of Breed, but are not eligible for finals until the breed is advanced to championship status. Status can vary by association.. See New Breed.


Queen : A breeding female cat. See dam.


Rainbow Bridge : A legendary place where departed pets wait for their human companions to join them in the afterlife.

Random-bred : A cat who was not intentionally bred and whose ancestry and genetic makeup is generally not known.

Recessive : A genetic characteristic that must be inherited from both parents to express itself in the cat? physical appearance. See dominant.

Recognition : Official acceptance by one of the cat associations.

Red : Often called orange, since it usually resembles that color, red is one of the two primary colors in cats. The other is black. All other colors (except white) are variations of black or red. The red gene is located on the X chromosome, and the color is therefore sex-linked. See an example of a red cat.

Registration : Initial recording of a cat? individual name and owner. A registration certificate is issued to the registered owner.

Registration rules : The guidelines set up for registering cats, litters, catteries and so forth. These rules vary by association.

Registry : Virtually all cat associations function as registries. Registering cats is one of their most important functions, because it is an official record of all cats registered and their relationships, so pedigrees can be issued with the required number of past generations. The registration rules can vary depending upon the cat association. Initial recording of cats?names and owners is usually done by the breeder shortly after birth, and usually by litter, since it? less expensive and then the breeder does not have to name every kitten; buyers usually like to name their own cats. Registration certificates are issued to the owners after the proper paperwork (and fees) have been submitted.

Rex : A wavy or curly coat. See examples of a shorthair rex coat and a longhair rex coat.

Ring : The area in which judging takes place.

Ring Clerk : The person who keeps track of the entries being judged and records the judge? decisions.

Roman nose : A nose with a bump.

Rosettes : A variation of the tabby pattern whereby doughnut or floral shapes instead of spots are formed. The spots have a dark outline with a lighter color in the center. They occur in a random pattern and vary in size. The Bengal breed has this variety of spots. See an example of rosetted spots. Also refers to the awards given to winning cats at cat shows.

Ruddy : A color in Abyssinians and Somalis, characterized by a burnt-sienna or orange-brown undercoat with shades of darker brown or black ticking. See an example of a ruddy coat.

Ruff : Longer fur around the neck; sometimes called a neck bib. Usually found in longhaired or semi-longhaired breeds. See an example of a ruff.


Sable : A rich, warm, brown color common to the Burmese. See an example of a sable cat.

Scoring : The system of keeping track of the number of points and awards each cat has attained. Each association has its own system.

Seal : A deep brown color.

Seal point : A pattern in which the deep brown color is concentrated at the cat? points (face mask, ears, tail and feet). The body color is light brown to ivory. Usually refers to the Siamese and other pointed pattern breeds. See an example of seal point cat.

Semi-cobby : Slightly less compact and less round than cobby. See an example of a semi-cobby body type.

Semi-foreign : A body type that? rectangular and elongated but less long than the svelte body type and not tubular. The head is a modified wedge shape. The ears are not as large and the muzzle is usually shorter than the svelte breeds. Semi-foreign breeds vary in build and musculature, but are usually fine or medium boned. See an example of a semi-foreign body type.

Self-colored : Solid colored.

Sepia : A soft brown color like the one seen in old photographs.

Shaded : A group of patterns where the coat is white, with color only on the tips of the cat? hairs. This can vary from almost no color ( chinchilla) to color two-thirds of the way down the hair shaft ( smoke). The shaded pattern gives a soft, smoky look to the coat. When color is only on the tips of the hair, the cat appears to glitter. See an example of a shaded coat.

Show cage : The cage in the benching area where a cat is kept until it? time to be shown.

Single-coated : A cat who has little or no undercoat. The Siamese and Balinese are examples of single-coated breeds. See undercoat.

Sire : Father of a kitten, litter or cat.

Smoke :The most extreme version of the shaded pattern, with color about two-thirds of the way down the hair shaft. See an example of a smoke cat.

Snippiness : An undesirably sharp appearance of the cat? muzzle. A snippy muzzle may be sharply pointed and have a foxy appearance or a whisker pinch.

Solid, solid pattern : A coat pattern in which the cat is one color all over. The color is solid to the hair roots.

Spay : An altered female. Also, to alter a female cat. See alter.

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) : A disease caused by a recessive gene that has been found in the Maine Coon breed. Tremors, muscle weakness, and muscle atrophy begin at about four months of age. The atrophy slows after seven months and depending upon the loss of function, affected cats can live up to eight years. No cure exists but a genetic test has been developed.

Spotted : One of the four tabby patterns, in which lines and swirls are broken up into spots. See an example of a spotted cat.

Spraying : Using urine to mark territory, usually onto a vertical surface. Both male and female cats may spray, although the behavior is more common in unaltered males.

Standard : The standard of perfection that outlines the ideal conformation for each breed.

Status : The award level for which a particular cat has qualified, such as grand champion.

Stop : A change in the slope of the profile.

Stud : A male cat used for breeding.

Suffix : The registered cattery name of the current owner of a cat. The suffix is at the end of a cat? name, preceded by the word "of." See prefix.

Svelte : Sleek, long-bodied and tubular. See an example of a svelte cat.


Tabby : There are four varieties of the tabby pattern: mackerel, classic, spotted and ticked or agouti tabby. All tabbies have thin pencil lines on the face, expressive markings around the eyes, and a mark shaped like the letter M on the forehead. Tabby is thought to be the original pattern (called "wild type") of domestic cats. Though it may not always show, every cat actually carries a gene for one or more of the four tabby patterns. These genes are not always expressed, but when they are, the cat has a lighter background color against which the tabby lines are visible. Different versions of the genes result in different patterns. When the gene is not expressed, the cat can be a solid color. See examples of: mackerel tabby pattern; classic tabby pattern;spotted tabby pattern; and ticked (agouti) tabby pattern.

TCA (Traditional Cat Association) : Founded by Diana Fineran in 1987, TCA? copyrighted motto is to preserve, protect, perpetuate and promote traditional cats. Its goal is to save traditional cats from extinction. Traditionals are cats whose body styles and conformation types have given way to different and often more extreme forms in other associations. Unlike other association breed standards, TCA breed standards never change. TCA supports health and longevity over breed conformation and does not accept any breed with deformities or lethal genes. The association sponsors shows and maintains a registry for both pedigreed and household pets. TCA has a breeder directory of traditional cat breeders.

TICA : The International Cat Association (TICA) was founded by a group of former ACFA members in 1979 and is based in Harlingen, Texas. TICA is the largest genetic registry of pedigreed and household pet cats and the second-largest association overall. It broke new ground in the way cats are shown and registered. TICA registers cats according to their genetic makeup but they are shown according to their physical appearance. In other words, if a Himalayan has Persian in his background, he would be shown as a Himalayan but his registration number would reveal the Persian ancestry. TICA-chartered clubs sponsor shows in North America, Japan, and many countries in Europe and South America. TICA? judges are educated, trained, experienced professionals whose knowledge and skills are continually updated and tested. Members belong to the association and have direct voting rights for officers, rather than voting privileges via club membership. Some regulation changes are voted on directly by members, while others are changed by a decision or ballot vote of the board of directors. TICA is receptive to new breeds, and therefore the organization tends to accept more new breeds than some other associations.

Ticked : A coat pattern in which each individual hair is decorated with light-colored bands contrasted with darker-colored bands. The lighter color lies closest to the skin and the hair ends with a dark tip. Also called agouti. See an example of a ticked coat.

Ticked tabby : Unlike the other tabbies, the ticked tabby pattern has no lines or spots on the body (though these patterns may be present on the head, neck, chest, legs, and tail). Each hair on the body is banded in alternating light and dark bands. See an example of a ticked tabby cat.

Tipped : A coat type in which the hairs have colored ends.

Toe out : Alignment of the paws so that they are closer at the back than at the front.

Toe tufts, tufting : Tufts of fur between the toes.

Tom : An unaltered male cat.

Tortie : The nickname for tortoiseshell, a combination of black and orange or their dilutes, blue and cream.

Tortie-lynx : A pointed cat who has tabby pattern over the tortoiseshell colors.

Tortoiseshell, tortie : A combination of black and orange or their dilutes, blue and cream. See an example of tortoiseshell cat.

Traditional Burmese : A sturdy, muscular cat with substantial bone structure, which differs from the Contemporary Burmese because of the head type. The face is not as flat as the Contemporary; the head is rounded with an apple-like skull tapering toward a broad, squared, well-developed, prominent nose and muzzle. Some fanciers say this head type more closely resembles earlier examples of the Burmese.

Traditional Siamese : Sometimes called the Old Style or Applehead, this type of Siamese is a medium to large cat with a round, moderate body and head type. The body is long, substantial and solid, and is neither cobby nor svelte. The head is rounded and broad, although it still has a distinctive Oriental look. See the description section of the Siamese profile.

Triple-coated : A coat type in which the awn, down and guard hairs are all the same length. The Siberian breed is triple-coated.

Tubular : Long and cylindrical; having the form of a tube. See an example of a tubular cat.

Tuck-up : A curved spine that causes the flank to be drawn up, as with the Cornish Rex (the opposite of increased depth of flank, as seen in the Manx). See an example of tuck-up.

Type : The physical conformation of the cat, which includes the body and head, bone structure, facial type, coat length and type, colors and patterns, and many other physical factors. See conformation.


UFO (United Feline Organization) : The United Feline Organization was founded in 1994 and is located in Brandeton, Florida. The UFO is the newest association and provides a professional genetic cat registry. The association is for those who want to have fun while pursuing their hobby of breeding and/or showing pedigreed or non-pedigreed cats. This organization is dedicated to promoting the health and welfare of all domestic cats, and provides educational programs about domestic cats, fosters responsible breeding practices and the altering of pedigreed and random-bred domestic cats, and sponsors research into feline diseases. UFO also promotes friendship, moral support and good sportsmanship among cat fanciers. Show judges must demonstrate that they qualify to evaluate the cats according to the breed standards. Some serve as teaching and training judges to help trainees learn how to identify ideal specimens of each breed.

Undercoat : The part of the coat made up of the shorter and softer awn and down hairs.

Undercolor : The color on the hair shaft closest to the skin.

United Cat Federation : A now defunct cat registry.


Van pattern : Bicolor pattern in which the cat is mostly white with colored patches on the head and tail. See an example of a Van pattern.

Vest buttons : Part of the tabby pattern for all except the ticked tabby. On the belly you?l find dark spots called vest buttons.


Wedge : A particular head type with a geometric shape in which two principal planes meet in a sharply acute angle. See an example of a wedge-shaped head.

Weir, Harrison : Considered the father of the cat fancy, Weir organized the first cat show as we know it today in 1871 and wrote the first set of cat breed standards.

Whippy : Slim tail type seen in breeds such as the Sphynx, Oriental and Siamese. See an example of a whippy tail.

Whisker break : An indentation in the bone structure of the upper jaw. Also called a whisker pinch.

Whisker pads : Slightly rounded pads on either side of the muzzle, where the whiskers grow.See an example of whisker pads.

Whisker pinches : A pinch, or indentation behind the whisker pads.See an example of a whisker pinch.

Whole : A cat who has not been spayed or neutered.


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